Tuesday, March 6, 2007

That Old-Fashioned Gay Sensibility


Isn't there a place where we can gather up all the closet cases, self-hating homos, and gay men and lesbians with old-fashioned sensibilities – maybe an island somewhere – and remove them from the gay community where they persist in perpetuating stereotypes and make the on-going battle for gay rights more difficult? I think one of the first to go to this island should be playwright Terrence McNally, who I have always thought was highly over-rated, more an example of someone who knows how to play the game than someone with any special brand of talent. A case in point is his play Love! Valour! Compassion! [full disclosure, I did not see this on the stage, but did see the film, which was also written by McNally]. Someone with a more modern sensibility might have made something memorable out of this soggy, slow mess about eight gay friends who meet periodically at a country house where they whine and bitch. Sure, there have plenty of plays and movies about heteros who whine and bitch, too, but I was still hoping for something that was a lot more advanced than say, The Boys in the Band, which this wasn't. While the characters in the play are recognizable types in the gay community, they are also stereotypes, and none of them are particularly likable. We have the grand dame precious British queen; the sort-of nelly who is himself prejudiced toward other minorities; the campy, flagrant movie musical queen [played with on again off again nelliness by Jason Alexander, the poor man's presumably straight Nathan Lane, who played this part on Broadway]; the kind-of swishy but sensual dancer/choreographer; the Puerto Rican semi-hustler [whose character is very under-delineated]; and so on. Certainly a playwright should be allowed to present characters, gay characters included, with flaws – nobody wants sanitized, dishonest portrayals – but while gay men like this may exist, there are millions of gay men who are nothing like them. Hasn't McNally ever been in a bear bar, for Pete's sake? At one point McNally even has most of the men dress up in tutus and prance around as ballet dancers which is much more idiotic and cliched than funny [what the hell was he thinking?]. McNally also perpetrated the equally moronic The Ritz, among others. Nothing I have ever seen by him compares to the really excellent gay play The Sum of Us by David Stevens.

Maybe on that island McNally can practice his true calling: writing sitcoms and doing Judy Garland impersonations.

1 comment:

Dan B (no, not Bennett, think harder) said...
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